THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF THE APOCALYPSE
John the Evangelist,the disciple the Lord loved most,in the Book of the Apocalypse (chapters1-4), written on the nearby island of Pathmos, where he was exiled, addreses the Seven Churches or communities of Asia Minor founded by him: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Of all these ,only Smyrna survives.The others are only archeological sites witnessing to the presence of a christian community in bygone times.
Greatest and most important city of Asia Minor ,St.John lived and died here the (Basilica of St john). Christianty brought Ephesus by Paul an important and prosperous ancient city on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor Turkey,about 75KM-47Miles sought of the city of Smyrna.It spreads over the slopes of the two hills-Mount Coressus-Bulbul Dagi and Mount Pion-Panayir dagi-and the valley between them,where the ancient harbour,now silted up,once carried its bustling trade.Its now called Selcuk and is little more than a quaint and colorful large village.St Paul visited the important Greco-Roman city of Epheusu betweenAD15 and 58.Here he preached in the synagogues of the large jewish community,tired to convert worshippers of the local goddess Artemis and baptized twelve disciples ( Acts 19-23-34).He encountered fierce opposition,chiefly from the priests of Artemis,was imprisoned.Nevertheless,he laid the foundation for a Christian community which becama one of the most important in the early years of Christianity.It is believed that Paul wrote part of the Epites while imprisoned at Ephesus.According to the tradition, Mary moved to Ephesus after the Crucifixion and died there.This tradition is based on John 19: 26-27,which states that jesus entrusted his mother to the care of John who moved Ephesus,where he spent the rest of his life and where he was buried.Thus Epheus is connected with Mary,John and Paul and boasts of two important edifices-one commemorating and the other, John.
But the history of Ephesus starts hundereds of years prior to the events connected with early Christianty.The region was inhabited as early as the middle of the 2 nd millennium BC by a population which worshipped the great mother goddess Cybele,later identified with Artemis- Diana.In the 10 th century BC the site was colonized by the Ionians and under the leadership of Androcles,Ephesus became the most important Ionic city,a centre of commerce and finance.Many fine buildings were erected in the city,most important of which was the Artemision-the temple to the goddess Artemis.Ephesus knew many conquerors including the Persians.Alexander the Great and the Romans.It had a period of prosperity under Lysimachos,heir of Alexander,but its days of greatest glory were under Roman rule.From the time of Augustus to the 2 nd century AD,Ephesus was the capital and most prosperous city of the Roman province of Asia and controlled vommerce and banking affairs of the entire region.Most of the mgnificent structures to be found in the ancient city date from that period.Between the 4 th ann 6 th centuries,the Byzantine rules of Ephesus constracted the basilicas of St.John and the Virgin Mary,and destroyed the old pagan temples of Artemsi.The marble and stones of the famous Artemision were used in the constraction of the basilica of St John in Ephesus,as well as in the Imperial basilica of St.Sophia in Constantinople.Two ecumenical councils were convened in Ephesus,once in 431 and other in 449,evidence of importance in those days.In the 6 th century the city moved to the hill northeast of the old site,which gradually became marshy.In this new location the city knew another period of prosperity during the Seljuk era in the 14 th century.Since then the city has declined to its present state.
Archaeological excavations began in Ephesus in 1866,since then the site has been periodically excavated,mainly by Austrian teams.Substantial remnants of the Hellenistic,Roman and Byzantine cities have been unearthed,and an ambitious project of restoration is being carried out.Of the most impotant temple of pagan Ephesus,the Artemision,considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world,tehere are today only parts of its foundataions,situated outside the contemporary village of Selcuk.The Roman city can be entered from the north.The main street runs first soughtwards and then turns to the soughteast,and takes the visitor along the main structures of the prosperous Roman city.These include the Vedius gymnasium,the stadium,the harbour gymnasium and baths,the theatre gymnasium,a well preserved theatr3e,the agora,with atemple to the Egyptioan god Serapis next to it ,the Celsus Library,now restored to its past magnificence,the Scholastic bath,the temple of Hadrian and the Trajan's fountain.One walks along the colonated Arkadiane Streetleading to the ancient harbour,and on the pavement of the Marble Road,part of the sacred road of the city.The holy sites of Ephesus are the two basilicas honouring the Virgin Mary and St.John.
THE CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN MARY
Situated in the centre of the ancient city,near the harbour,this church is the most impotant Christian shrine in Epheus.It was built inside a 2 nd century basilica type building connected with the central marketplace of the city.The structure 30m wide and 260m long,divided by two rows of columns into anve two aisles,with asemi-circular apse at eachof the narrow ends.It is thought that this building was the corn and money exchange of this thriving commercial metropolis,while the apses were the meeting place of the courts of justice,In the 4 th century,the city having declined,the growing Chhristian community erected a church in the westeren part of abandoned building.A few centuries later two more churches were built inside the westeren half of the building.one behind theother,while the easteren half was the seat of the bishopand members of the clergy.It was here that the Ecumenical Councils were held in 431 and 499.
A name partly Greek and Turkish, mening `Gate`,or `House of Panagia`(all holy)` the scriptures do not give any information about the latter part of the Virgin's life.However,a popular Christian tradition which goes back at least to the Council of Ephesus (431) maintains that she came with the Apostle John to
A major regognition of the house was sealed in 1967 when Pope Paul VI visited and prayed in the house.Later on ,Pope John II visited the house and confirmed again the significance of the house for Christianity.
The home of Mary, Meryemana, is now visited by over a hundered thousend pilgrims each year,of whom many are Muslims who revere her.the pilgirims come to drink the waters of the sacred spring,to meditate,to pray for health,and to breathe the atmosphere of what undoubtedly is an ancient spot of worship.In 1967 Pope Paul VI celebrated mass here,are prayed both in the Church of St. John and in the Double Church ( the church of St.Mary)ın Ephesus itself.Pope John II was here in November 1979 and last visit made by Pope 16th Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger) on 29 November 2006 .
The Place was identified by the lazarists of
Since the house discovered, the house of Virgin has been attributed with a variety of cures for hopeless patients by the use of water coming out of the spring beneath her room. At the time these lines were being written the fireplace had been removed but the spring was still pouring its sweet water with healing powers.
Mary's House was the only one built stone house and the whole area around the house is so beautiful and peaceful has such tranquil atmosphere here that it is like an open-air sanctuary.
The first church was probably built in the middle of the fourth century. The church was the first one dedicated to Virgin is regarded as evidence that there was very early tradition which accepted that her last years were spent at
This church is situated on the hilltop northwest of ancient Ephesus above the town of Selcuk,on the traditional site of the house and the tomb of St.John.Thechurch dates from the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian527-565.It is a large cross shaped basilica,120m long and 45m wide ,divided by massive marble covered pillars into a wide nave and two narrower aisles,above which were galleries.The side transept protrudes on both sides of the six domes which formed part of the roof the churcj,lies the crypt which contains the tomb of St.John.The dust rising from the grave was believed to have curative powers and was gathered by the multitudes of pilgrims who visited this important basilica throughout the Middle Ages.The basilica is now under the restorations.Marble slabes,segments of the mosaic floor and capitals can bee seen.
According to one Christian, during the last part of his life St,John withdrew from Ephesus to the hill of Ayasuluk (The word derives from the Greek Ayios Theologos to mean `Holly Breath` or `Aya Suluk` in Turkish.
Most of the building material came from the ruins of The Ephesus and the ruins of the
A large octagonal baptistery with the stairs for total immersion.
John is believed to have lived in
The Ephesians were the first congregation of Christians John addresses; the others order were
The Basilica of St.John was on the hill above the town. It has been partly reconstructed. The building was in a shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Under the central dome was the tomb of John.
Like other churches that Justinian and Theodora built the capitals of the supporting colums were incised with their monograms.
A horbour city gate to east.A large and prosperous city in the central part of the coast of the Aegean Sea,inhabited from the 3 rd Millennium BC to this day.It prospered particularly in the Roman period when it was the home of the one of the `seven churches`.There is no indication that St.Paul ever visited Smyrna,but it had an early Christian community and as soon as Christianity was recognized as the state religion by Emperor Constatine it became an archbishopric.Very few of the monuments of ancient periods have been preserved or excavated in Smyrna.
THE CHURCH OF ST. POLYCARP
St. Polycarp`s church is the oldest existing catholic church to be established in Izmir.During the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent,around the year 1620,permission was granted to built a chapel,which was dedicated to St.Polycvarp, where catholics could celebrate their liturgy.At first it was located in the grounds of french consulate.But,not much later,in 1630, a church was built.The church was raised to the status of a parish for the French speaking community.In 1688,the church was gutted by flames.Two years later,a new church was built. Damaged and repaired several times,that church,enlarged and frescoed in 1898,is today the official residence of the catholic Archbisshop of Izmir.
Dome and Arnate Altar-Piece
The paintings depicting scenes from the Gospel and from the life of Saint Polycarp are the works of a young french painter-architect,Raymond Pere,who established himself in Izmir at the end od 19th century.His name became famous for what is considered his masterpiece,the Konak clock tower,which eventually became the symbol of Izmir.He left us a selfportrait,the main in chains with balck moustache,in the scene of St.Polycarp`s martyrdom to the rightof main altar.Worth noting is the statue of the black-clothed Madonna donated to the church by catholics fleeing from their native Persia.There are also some tomstones which date back to the time when burials in churces were permitted.
St. Polycarp Bishop and Martyr
SMYRNA`s first chiristian communtiy,like the other churchs mentioned in the Book of Revelation (chapters 2,3),by St. John the Apostle and Evangelist,in the first period of his apotolic mission in Asia Minor (C37-48)A.D.when he accompanied the Virgin Mother to the safer havens in Ephesusu,soon after the outbreak of first violent persecution against the young christian communtity in Jerusalem,in the year 36 of our era which claimed the life of the first marty,St.Stephen,and of James,John`s elder brother 942 A.D) Polycarp a disciple of John,held in for his holy life,his outstanding faith and deep knowledge of the Lord`s teaching and of Apostolic Tradition,was appointed by himw as the fourth bishop of Smyrna after Ariston.Strateas and Bucolos.During the many long years when he was administering the See of Smyrna he had to go through many hardships.The persecutions of Trajan (98-117) and Hadrian (117-138)inflicted terror and enriched his church with many martys.But was musthave afflicted him most were the first heresies spreading like wild fire in the early Church.Marcion,a native of Pontus,in the Black Sea region of Turkey,who died in Rome in the middle of the second century,denied the divine nature of Christ decending many belieers.St.Polycarp affirmed vigorously the apostolic teaching defending his flock from this error.Another point of attrition which was causing uneasiness among christians was the date of Easter,celebrated in some places following the tradition of Peter and in some others that of John.To find a solution,he travelled to Rome in 155 and discussed the issue personally with Pope Anicetus(+166),who granted him the faculty to continnoe to follow the obtaining tradition in his church.Our Saint,being the last living link the Apostolic Tradition,was looked upon as the teacher whose authority in matters of faith could not be dismissed.At the venerable age of 86 years,during the persecution of Antoninus Pius,the governor of Smyrna condemned him to be burnt alive,but being spared by the flames,he was stabbed with a sword.The Acts of his martyrdom,among the most ancient documents of their kind to reach us,tell us that he showed great courge and dignity as he walked full of joy in the midst of onlookers who filled the stadium, to the rogue,where he was to witness unblemmished faithfullness to his crucified Lord.It was February 23 of the year 156.His feast preceedded by a solemn novena satrting on February 14,is celebrated annualy in his church in Izmir.Hymns in Latin and Greek evoke the life of the holy bishop and martry and his loving care for his city of Smyrna,as experienced so many times by its citizens.From the brochure of St Polycorp Church.
A very important city in westeren Turkey some 109km-68Miles north of Smyrna.The city, built on upper slopes of a high hill,rose to prominence in the second century BC under its king,Attalus,and his successor who made Pergamum a most important commercial,scientific,artistic,cultural and religious centre.The second biggest Library of the Ancient world was here
The city attracted people of different nations ,including many Jews and Phoenicians
Towards the end of the century the last of the Attalid kings gave Pergamum as a gift to Rome (133BC) ,who made it the capital of its province of Asia.The city expanded and a new quarter was added at the foot of the hill.In this flourishing metropolis was one of the `seven churches`.Thdecline of Pergamum was connected with the decline of Roman Empire.It was rebuilt in the Byzantine period,but never regained its former glory.
Ancient Pergamum has been thoroughly explored and excavated and is one of the most spectacular sites of the ancient world.Noteworthy are the Asklapeion-the temple dedicated to the Aesculapius ,the god of healing and medicine-and the Red Basilica the original function of which is not known.Both these edifices are in the lower city.Above them rises the acropolis with its walls,temples and magnificient theatre.
A small town in westeren Turkey,100km-60miles northeastr of Smyrna.Thyatira known for its trade guilts.Modern Akhisar is now a prorperous centre of farming.In antiquity it was a town of some importance ,in which Christianity spread rapidly,and in it was one of the `seven churches`.Nothing is left of ancient town.
A wealty city,hometown of famous King Croesus and the first coin of the World minted in THE Capiatal of the Kingdom of Lydia.An important ancient town on the westeren edge of the Anatolia .It is located about 90km-55miles east of Smyrna.Not much known of the early history of Sardis before it was captured by Cyrus of Persia and made the chief town of the region.However,legend attributes to its lastking.Croesus 650-546 BC the magic touch that turned everything to gold as testimony of his great wealth.Sardis was destroyed by the Athenians 499BC, captured by Alexander the Great 334BC and then by the Romans 133BC.As wastheir custom all over Asia Minor,the Romans erected many fine buildings,especiallyafter the devastating earthquake AD17.
There was alarge and wealthy Jewish community in Roman Sardis,among which Christianity spread very early.Sardis was one of the `seven churches`.The Jewishcommunity,however remained strong by the 4 th century had built the largest synagogue known in the ancient world.Originally it was part of the civic centre of the Sardis which included a gymnasium,a boxing arena and public baths.At some point howeverma large and narrow hall in this complex was handed over to the Jewish community who converted it into a synagogue.The hall was divided into a front open courtyard and a main hall with a large apse in the west.The floors were with colorful mosaics,traces of which were found scattered on the floor.Sardisretained some of the importance until 14 th century,and declined thereafter to become a tiny village.Excavations carried out on the site have uncovered huge civic centre and impressive remains of a temple dedicated to Artemis,the chief goddess of the city in the Lydia.Hellenistic and Roman periods.Substantial section of the temple measuring about 100x50m stood on a podium and was erected by a flight of steps.
The temple had 8 columns on each of its short sides and 20 columnsalong the long sides.8 column at the westeren end of the temple still stand there today.Under this temple traces of the temple of the time of Croesus have been found.
An old town on the westeren Anatolia Plateau ,some 150KM-95Miles west of Smyrna.It was a centre of pagan warship in the Roman period,and Christianity did not spread there as fast as in other Asaian cities.Nevertheless,it was one of the `seven Churches`.It was a rather important town in the Byzantine period,and large stretches of the wall of those days still surrounded the town of Alaseheir.
Known for its wool mmanufacturing and medicine,Wealthy city of banking and finance.Not far from Hierapolis,Laodicea is situated on the Anatolian Plateau.It was founded in the 3 rd century BC and changed hands several times until it was taken by the Romans in the first century AD.Laodicea had large Jeweish community which adopted Christianity and was of the `SEVEN CHURCHES` in the 11 th century Laodicea again knew a stormy period,being conquered by the Seljuks and than again by the Byzantines.From the 13 th century on the town graduallydeteriorated and is now uninhabited.
2006 HELLIANTUS ANATOLIA TOURS|